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San Francisco Motorcycle Day Rides and City Guide

San Francisco is easily one of the most famous travel destinations in the world. The city is full of sights both striking and quirky, along with entertaining activities and mouth-watering food.

San Francisco is easily one of the most famous travel destinations in the world. The city is full of sights both striking and quirky, along with entertaining activities and mouth-watering food.

To help you make sure you get the best out of your experience, we've put together a list of must-see places in the city itself as well as the best rides in the area direct from our Eagle Rider custom travel planners.


San Francisco is easily one of the most famous travel destinations in the world. The city is full of sights both striking and quirky, along with entertaining activities and mouth-watering food.

Spread over an area of 49 miles, San Francisco may appear small, but the diversity it has to offer makes for such a rich experience that many can never get enough of it and come back time and again. This city offers it all: beautiful parks, historical museums, cultural activities, street art, amazing restaurants, plus some really great riding just outside the city.

The area around San Francisco has some of the most beautiful roads in California, and San Francisco has a special lure for motorcyclists.

The Pacific Coast Highway, Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands, and Skyline Boulevard, which runs the ridge road on top of the mountains that separate the San Mateo Peninsula from the Pacific Ocean, are just some of the scenic routes just outside the city.

Riding In and Around San Francisco

Scenic and twisty roads as well as biker-friendly bars and hangouts along the way make this destination a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the best of the Pacific Coast right at your front wheel.



During the weekends some of the motorcycle spots might be a little crowded, so if you are looking for less traffic aim to travel on weekdays. If you love meeting new riding buddies, however, Saturdays and Sundays are when you’ll meet the most people on the road as well as at the motorcycle haunts.

Here are five motorcycling destinations around San Francisco not to be missed.

Alice’s Restaurant


One of the all-time favorite motorcycle riders’ spots around San Francisco is Alice’s Restaurant. Located at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 48, this rustic Redwoods restaurant not only serves great food but also has friendly a staff that makes you feel like you’ve just returned home. Both the décor of the restaurant and the menu are motorcycle-centric.


You will find plenty of motorcycle aficionados at the restaurant, especially on the weekends. Anywhere from thirty to a hundred motorcyclists flock to the restaurant on Saturdays and Sundays at any given time, so you’re sure to enjoy the company of like-minded souls. Alice’s Restaurant also has a gas station in case you need fuel up before heading out again.

Pacific Coast Highway

Lauded as the ‘prettiest motorcycle road in the world’, the heart of the Pacific Coast Highway is right outside San Francisco. Start your journey exiting San Francisco riding over the Golden Gate Bridge, passing through Monterey and enjoying the dramatic coastline views of Big Sur.


Past San Luis Obispo you can loop back inland and, passing Fresno, spend a few days exploring Yosemite National Park, one of the most beloved (and heavily visited) National Parks in America. Wherever you go on the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll find plenty of lodging options from roadside hotels to motels, campsites, even cabins. You can spend days or weeks meandering along the Pacific Coast Highway and experiencing the best that California has to offer.



To see our trip recap from a one-way motorcycle adventure from San Francisco to Los Angeles, take a look at our road diary.

Skyline Boulevard

Running for almost 53 miles, Skyline Boulevard (also known as State Route 35, or SR 35) is a must-ride route for motorcycle travelers.

The southern part of Skyline Boulevard is the most scenic, offering multiple lookout points and great views of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean at the same time. From here you also get a beautiful view of the Silicon Valley.


The road runs right along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, making it a popular destination for weekend riders. Be mindful of mountain bikers who love this route and watch your speed as the Skyline Boulevard has many sharp bends and twists.

Conzelman Road

Located on the Northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge, Conzelman Road offers spectacular coastal views and the best photo opportunities of the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background.

Battery Spencer, Postcard Ridge, and Hawk Hill are the best lookout points for panoramic views but be prepared to wait for a free parking spot if you ride here during the weekends. During the weekdays Conzelman Road is less crowded and you can enjoy the ride and the sights with significantly less traffic.


East Bay

San Francisco’s East Bay area is one of the most popular riding destinations among local riders. Steep hill climbs, hairpin turns, breathtaking vistas, and scenic routes abound.

If you’re ready for a challenge, ride the switchbacks up to Mount Diablo located at 3,800 feet above sea level. This road reveals some of the best scenery in the area. For a bite to eat, stop at Rio Vista’s Foster’s Bighorn Restaurant off of Highway 84 (past the Rio Vista bridge), a quirky local inn that only accepts cash and offers a mostly meat-oriented menu.


To turn this into a full day ride, we added a detour to Point Reyes and Muir Beach to the route, but you may choose to cut it short and head back to the city any time.

10 Must-See Places in San Francisco

Some parts of San Francisco are best explored on foot, while others, like Alcatraz Island, may require a boat ride.

If you plan to see most of the city on your motorcycle, check out this handy map of all the paid and free motorcycle parking spots in town. If you’re planning to walk around San Francisco and take one of the iconic cable cars, make sure your motorcycle is parked in a secure garage before you walk away.

Depending on how much time you have in the city, mix and match these locations according to what holds the most appeal. Here are our favorite hangouts in the city.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most famous attraction in San Francisco and certainly one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. This 1.7-mile-long bridge gives you a fantastic panoramic view of San Francisco.

Declared one of the modern wonders of the world, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge at the time of its opening in 1937. Ride your bike across it, or simply take a walk along it via the pedestrian lane to enjoy the sights of both the ocean and the bay from the bridge as well as the city skyline.


If your plans include riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, consider adding the automatic toll payment option to your Eagle Rider motorcycle rental when you book your ride. This automatic capture system isn’t available on all models, but if you choose this option it makes toll paying in California not only easier, but also less expensive because if we need to bill you after your motorcycle rental there is a  toll fee plus an administrative fee for us to invoice you.

On the Golden Gate Bridge toll payment is paid by automatic license plate number capture only and now there is no way to pay the toll to a human when you cross the bridge. Tolls are only collected when riding south and into San Francisco, you do not have to worry about the Golden Gate Bridge toll.

Cable Cars

San Francisco’s cable cars are an iconic part of San Francisco's charm. They were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and are the last of their kind. San Francisco’s cable cars were built in 1873 to help locals negotiate the many steep hills of the city. They are rarely used by the locals now, but a cable car ride is obligatory for any visitor who wants the full-on San Francisco experience.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island, located 1.5 miles off the shore of San Francisco in the middle of the Bay, is synonymous with its notorious former prison. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary housed some of America's biggest criminals, including Al Capone, between 1933 and 1963. Currently the prison is a popular tourist destination. You can walk around the island, tour the prison, and hear the stories of those who were once jailed here using the audio tour.



Twin Peaks

To get the best view of the city hike up the Twin Peaks. These 922 foot hills stand adjacent to one another, offering a great view of San Francisco. The Twin Peaks are the only hills in San Francisco that are still in their original state and not developed. If you don’t feel like hiking you can ride up to the top of one of the Peaks and leave your bike in a free parking lot at the top.


Chinatown

New York’s Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside of Asia, but San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in North America. The area it covers is so large that it contains two hospitals and several parks, squares, churches, and fish markets, as well as countless shops. The best way to explore San Francisco’s Chinatown is to enter through the Dragon Gate and head for Portsmouth Square.

Golden Gate Park


Larger than New York's Central Park, Golden Gate Park stretches halfway across the city. There are many attractions in the park including museums, sports courts, and a Japanese tea garden for those looking for a little zen time. There's enough to see here that you can spend a whole day walking and exploring the park at your own pace.

Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is one of the first modern science museums. Consisting of six galleries, the Exploratorium contains nearly 600 interactive exhibits covering a wide range of subjects like biology, geography, engineering, and psychology. Although it appears as if designed for children, the exhibit galleries are as intriguing to adults as excited as youngsters. The Exploratorium is so full of experiences that you can spend a whole day here completely getting lost in time.

Union Square

Situated in the heart of downtown San Francisco, Union Square is a beloved hangout spot because of its central location and the energy it contains. Set among the tall buildings in the middle of the busy city and surrounded by upscale hotels, restaurants, theatres and boutique shops, Union Square has a vibrant, cosmopolitan city vibe.

Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-visit, even if you don’t usually visit touristy spots. Fisherman’s Wharf is a famous waterfront community of San Francisco, offering some of the best dining in the world – especially when it comes to seafood.

The wharf also has some great shopping and several art and historical attraction points like Madame Tussaud’s, the Aquarium of the Bay, the Maritime National Historic Park, and the Maritime Museum.

Eddie Rickenbacker’s Restaurant, 133 2nd St: Located just outside Chinatown in downtown San Francisco, this nostalgic tavern has it all. Hearty food including the best New York steak sandwich in town and vintage motorcycles hanging off the walls and ceilings will make you feel right at home here.

If you want to feel like a local while in San Francisco, here are a few quick pointers to help you navigate the city and the culture:

  • Don’t call the city Frisco or San Fran. Locals detest these nicknames, especially when used by out-of-towners. It’s either San Francisco or simply, The City.
  • Make sure your brake pads are in good condition. Most hills in San Francisco are sincerely steep (as in 31 percent of grade steep).
  • Use cable cars, buses, and trains instead of taxi cabs. It’s the best way to meet the locals.
  • Get a bottle of red: you’re in the wine capital of California.
  • Don’t get startled if you hear a strange, wailing siren song: it’s the foghorns near the Golden Gate Bridge helping ships navigate their way into the bay.

Final Thoughts

San Francisco has so much to offer it may feel a little overwhelming if you want to see it all and experience it all in one visit.

To make for easier and less stressful travel, plan your riding for weekdays to avoid the crowds and enjoy the inner city during weekends for the richest San Francisco experience.

The Pacific Coast Highway can be enjoyed at any time, whereas rides along the Skyline Boulevard and Conzelman Road are more enjoyable during the week when there’s less traffic. City attractions like parks, museums, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz might take up a whole day to explore, so plan your outings accordingly.

San Francisco traffic rush hours are usually 7 - 9:30 am and 5 - 6.30 pm, so you might want to opt for cable cars, cycling, or walking during these times.

If you intend to ride your motorcycle around the city, most points of attraction are well-marked and easy to find, and locals are usually happy to help with directions if you get lost. Lane splitting, also called lane sharing, or filtering, is legal in California, but always err on the side of caution and only ride slightly over the pace of the traffic.

San Francisco has a diverse and intriguing motorcycle culture, and you’re sure to meet many interesting characters while visiting the Golden City.

If you plan to fly and ride, check out our motorcycle rentals in San Francisco. Whether you choose to travel on your own on rented bike or on a tour with us, enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer and don’t forget to tell us all about the experience.

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